When the kids were little it became a fixture in our calendar to drive down to Eastbourne and walk along the front together on New Year’s Day. The first time we did this was January 1991 when Debbie was expecting Emma, little did we know that after Alex’s recent recovery from chicken pox poor James was already going down with it big time.
We’d celebrate in an old Italian family run fish and chip shop. The father, who I assume was the owner, used to wander round his customers and play the accordion which really gave it a lovely atmosphere, as did the huge glass stand filled with cakes, that I seem to remember Debbie always looked longingly at.
Unfortunately the family sold up ages ago and it’s now a Harry Ramsden’s, but at least it’s still a fish and chip shop! In the never ending search of places to visit before we decamp to Wales, I decided that we should go back there on Sunday the 2nd May with Hamish, to enjoy a last visit for us and a first visit for him!
The drive down was rather uneventful but when we arrived we decided to park in the normal multi-story car park but it was so full we had to go to the very top. On exiting on foot we discovered the reason why, Magnificent Motors was on and the place was full of vintage cars parked up on the grass just off the beach near the Martello tower area.
Even better was the fact that all along the promenade (where we used to walk) were loads of food stands and we decided to go for Thai green curry and rice and chicken noodles which we ate on a park bench watching the crowds go by and smelling appreciatively all the food being cooked alfresco.
After finishing our impromptu lunch we headed off towards the car show and walked past loads of vintage Jaguars and other sports cars which to be honest Debbie seemed a bit nonplussed about, only when we passed a collection of series 1 Land Rovers was there even a flicker of interest and that was to steer me away just in case I got my wallet out..
That all changed however as we approached a gleaming red Ford Cortina Mk. 2 GT on show pictured below. Now this car has always held a special place in Debbie’s heart as it was the make and model of her father’s pride and joy which he bought in 1967 with the registration DHB 410E.
It wasn’t red but white in colour, although it could have been as he gave her the choice between the two, despite her only being nine at the time. They picked it up together brand new from the Ford showroom WH Bakers in Merthyr! It also had a sporty black stripe added later that Debbie persuaded him to put on in 1973.
Her father (Cliff) changed the steering wheel to a metal spoked one similar the one below apart from the fact that he chose wood for the rim. Her mother (Glenys) wasn’t interested in cars at all!
In 1977 the car became the first that learner driver Debbie drove with Cliff being almost completely confident in her prowess despite the 1600 twin carb engine, the only utterance was the occasional “slow down”…
After spending a considerable time wandering around we returned to the pier area and nipped down to the lower level promenade area where a seafood stall was open for business. The Gods must have been smiling down at me for in a bucket was a large number of some of the biggest oysters for sale I’ve seen in a long time! Three opened and devoured a short time later and with Hamish freshly watered thanks to the aforementioned stallholders we set off for home. Job done!